JACK Payne struck an 88th-minute winner as Swindon Town beat Newport County 2-1 at Rodney Parade on Saturday.

A highly-entertaining affair that featured no shortage of controversial moments eventually burst into life in the 73rd minute when Finn Azaz inadvertently headed into his own net for the game's opening goal.

Dom Telford equalised for Newport less than 60 seconds later, only for Payne to win it in the dying embers with a fine strike from range.

The victory lifted Town up to fourth in League Two and marked the club’s first league win in South Wales since 1980.

Town made three changes to the side that cruised past Crewe Alexandra in the first round of the FA Cup a fortnight ago.

Mathieu Baudry was missing through injury while Harry McKirdy was serving a one-game suspension for five yellow cards, and Jonny Williams dropped to the bench. Ben Gladwin, Alex Gilbert, and Rob Hunt all regained starting places as a result.

A frantic start to the game at Rodney Parade saw early chances for Gilbert and Telford blocked at source by the respective defence.

As the home crowd continued to roar their team on, Jojo Wollacott was forced into his first save of the afternoon after a searching ball down the left found Telford. He shifted the ball onto his left while faced up by Akin Odimayo, but Telford still managed to let fly with a powerful shot that crunched into the stomach of Town’s stopper.

Moments later, Town captain Dion Conroy breathed a sigh of relief after needlessly giving the ball away inside his own half. It was picked up by Courteney Baker-Richardson who played the ball through to Telford instantly down the right channel of the box. But strangely, instead of shooting, Telford tried to pick out Baker-Richardson once again and Hunt was able to clear.

As Newport continued to dominate, Odimayo was forced to clear off Telford’s toes when he was well set. And midway through the opening half, Newport’s Azaz crashed an effort off the post. A short corner was played to Azaz who shifted the ball onto his left and lashed an effort off the left post high up.

Baker-Richardson headed into the arms of Wollacott later on, before Town gradually began to recover back into the contest.

In the 30th minute, the visitors should have been awarded a penalty when Kesler-Hayden went down just inside the box, but the referee was not interested and told the wing-back to get up.

Following Micky Demetriou’s wild tackle on Kesler-Hayden – which earned the centre-back a yellow card – a much quieter end to the first half allowed both teams to reset.

Town began the second half on the front foot and forced Joe Day into his first save courtesy of Gilbert’s long-range effort. The left-footed drive appeared to be heading just inside the post, but Day reached out to his left to tip it wide.

Up the other end, Wollacott was then required to be alert after Dolan's low cross with his left almost crept in the far post from a free-kick. The Town stopper watched it all the way and sprung away to his right before pushing it behind.

Midway through the second half, Ollie Cooper snatched at a volley when well set, and moments later, Cameron Norman dragged a shot well wide after breaking into the box down the right.

With 20 minutes to play, the game really sparked into life. Town should have been awarded a penalty once again after Day gave the ball away inexplicably to Payne, and the Town man shot. It definitely hit a hand on the way through, but Town had to make do with a corner instead.

As it turned out, that corner led to the game’s first goal anyway after Payne’s in-swinging corner was accidentally headed into his own net by Azaz under pressure from Ellis Iandolo.

Yet, seconds later, Town were pegged back after yet another missed call by the officials allowed Newport to equalise. A chipped ball forward down the right was clearly handled by Ollie Cooper after it bounced off his chest, yet neither the linesman or referee saw it, and the cross was slammed home by Telford.

Louis Reed attempted to reply with a long-range effort shortly after the pair of goals, but his effort was tipped over by Day.

But with two minutes of the 90 remaining, Payne won it for the visitors. After picking the ball up in midfield, Payne ran at the retreating County defence and lashed a powerful effort under the hands of Day and into the net.

NCFC starting XI: Day, Norman, Clarke, Dolan, Demetriou, Haynes, Upson, Azaz, Cooper, Telford, Baker-Richardson.

SUBS: Townsend, Lewis, Bennett, Ellison, Cain, Fisher, Abraham.

STFC starting XI: Wollacott, Odimayo, Iandolo, Conroy (C), Gladwin, Simpson, Payne, Gilbert, Kesler-Hayden, Hunt, Reed.

SUBS: Ward, Lyden, Mitchell-Lawson, Williams, East, Dabre, Minturn.